I’m super excited right now because I’ve taken the first step into becoming a bread making mad man. It’s true. I’ve wanted to learn how to make bread for the longest time and I think I finally might be on the right track. And to think, all it’s going to take to get me there is one book.
I recently purchased the bread bible. It’s called Bread Illustrated and it’s put out by America’s Test Kitchen. This is the second cookbook I picked up that’s been released by the Test Kitchen and I have to tell you – I couldn’t be happier. The first one was and still is incredibly awesome and this one is perfect for anytime reading. I say that because it not only shares over 400 pages of incredible looking bread recipes, it also teaches you the ins and outs of what’s important when it comes to making bread. Hydration, kneading, gluten, yeast – everything. It’s like taking a class. I love it.
The book starts off easy. They set you up with 10 recipes that are difficult to screw up. Later on, they ease you into pretty crazy areas such as ciabatta, durum bread and rosemary focaccia. I’m actually still in awe about how many recipes they give. And the best part is, each one has it’s own lesson and photos attached to it. If you’re a bread lover, you can’t go wrong with this one. For under $18, I mean, c’mon.
Today’s recipe is a quick bread featuring lots of cheese. Sharp cheddar and Parmesan, to be exact. The Parmesan is located at the very bottom of the loaf and the cheddar is mixed in with the dough. This bread uses the “quick bread” method, which needs to be adhered to closely. All this means is that you need to watch how much you mix the dough. If you mix too much, a gluten structure will form and the bread won’t rise as much as it should. The dough will be too tough and because there’s no yeast involved, there won’t be enough “muscle” available to increase the volume. I’ll talk more about this below.
Also, since there’s all this cheese in the bread, the cooking time needs to be paid attention to. Not enough time in the oven and the bread will come out soggy. Too much time and it’s going to be far too hard. Really though, it’s a simple recipe that, if followed, should yield you wonderful results.
Makes: 2 Loaves
6 Ounces Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
5 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
8 Ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Cut into 1/2 Inch Cubes
2 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Sour Cream
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
2 Large Eggs
The ingredients I listed above will make two loaves that are 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches. For only one loaf, simply cut the ingredients in half.
Adjust one of the oven racks to the center position and then pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease Pans & Add Cheese
Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pans and then sprinkle half of the shredded Parmesan cheese evenly inside of them.
Combine & Mix Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
Mix the dry ingredients well.
Next, add the cubed cheddar cheese to the dry mixture and mix until all the cheese is thoroughly coated with flour.
Combine & Mix Wet Ingredients
In another bowl, add the wet ingredients, such as the milk, sour cream, butter and eggs.
Whisk these ingredients well.
Combine Dry & Wet Ingredients
Add the wet ingredients from the one bowl to the dry ingredients in the other bowl. With a rubber spatula, fold all the ingredients together. This is where you need to be careful. Fold everything just until you see that there’s no more dry flour. Again, if you mix too much, a gluten structure will form and it will ruin the rise.
The dough should be lumpy, on the dry side and difficult to work with.
Add Dough to Pans
Divide the dough between the two pans. Smooth it so it lays flat and sprinkle the other half of the Parmesan cheese on top of it.
Bake the Bread
Add the pans to your oven for approximately 45 minutes. At 40 minutes, begin checking the progress with a toothpick. Stick a toothpick into the center of the bread and pull it out. If it’s clean, the bread is finished. If it’s wet with dough, continue cooking. The cheese on top won’t brown all too much. It’ll merely begin turning golden as the bread finishes up baking.
When the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for about a half hour. Then, run a knife along the outer edge of the bread and then turn it upside down and shake. It should pop out. Slice at your leisure.
The Final Bread
This bread is interesting, to say the least. I wonder if it originated somewhere special in the world. The bottom has a tight crust of Parmesan and the top and middle are as cheesy as you’re going to get. I really like this recipe.
Take a look at the Parmesan cheese at the bottom of the loaf.
Also, check out the inside. You can really see the cheddar in there. Enjoy!